Play, Pie, Pint
Oran Mor, Glasgow
There is a vast array of talent in the 3 male actors that perform this classic cut, the second in a series of 4 at Oran Mor. The stage is strewn with rocks and ancient pillars which are partially lit with warm ambient lighting.It feels like summer.It is in fact the island of Lemnos where Philoctetes has been surviving and living like Robinson Crusoe for the past ten years in excruciating agony due to an untimely snake bite, the stench of which sealed his fate there.His shipmates led by Odysseus,‘democratically voted him off the ship’ – Odysseus (George Docherty) plays his scheming character with such gusto and finger-pointing persuasion that Neoptolemos agrees to go with him to Lemnos to retrieve the bow of Heracles from sceptic Philoctetes, ‘Can I succeed without destroying my soul, my integrity?’ ponders Neoptolemus sinking into the murky waters of ambition and glory and risking his reputation and that of his dead father Achilles.
Philoctetes, played by Benny Young, gives a compelling account of pain and disability and the horrifying psychological and social disruption that he suffered on account of his cruel abandonment ten years prior by Odysseus and his evil crew.Our compassion is gained when he appeals to Neoptolemus (Daniel Portman,Game of Thrones’ Podrick Payne and River City actor) ‘Cut it off, my foot, use a rock.Kill this pain with pain’ Odysseus opportunistically tries to rationalize his inhumane imprisonment of Philoctetes, ‘oh please, save me your fucking pious wank” The essentially moral Neoptolemos, who so nearly betrays the honorable Philoctetes returns to his usual moral framework saving himself from further guilt by persuading Philoctetes to leave with them.
This play is a representation of social stigma built on disability so it is heartening that Neoptolemus does not lose his soul or the grit in his integrity. This, coupled with some very un-Sophocles patter such as ,‘has your stinking clogged your thinking?’ and ‘Helen the horny,the trollop of Troy’ inject some much needed humour into this heavy duty philosophical work.The actors are superb and their collective energy make this modern day gangster style version well worth seeing.
Reviewer : Clare Crines